Why does pigmentation happen?
Melanin, your skin’s brown pigment protects your skin from UV damage. It is made by the specialised pigment-producing cells called melanocytes and is then transferred to the surrounding skin cells.
By Daniel, ESK Co-Founder
As we get older, this process can go pear shaped. Blame the sun. Studies have shown that without UV rays, the number of melanocytes (pigment producing cells) actually decreases by 10-20% per decade. Ditto smoking and pollution which both contribute to wrinkling have no effect on pigmentation. On the other hand, skin exposed to UV radiation causes inflammation to the skin (even at low levels) which stimulates the melanocytes to increase in number and clump together. Plus these sun-exposed melanocytes seem to overproduce melanin.
How can I get rid of them?
A word of warning. Getting rid of pigmentation is never quick and most dermatologists agree that the best results come from using multiple depigmenting agents together. But left untreated, pigmentation caused by the sun will most likely persist indefinitely and do not go away on their own. ESK’s Pigmentation Kit, uses ingredients with the strongest evidence for managing pigmentation.:
- Tyrosinase Inhibitors: Right now, the most effective depigmentation agents available are tyrosinase inhibitors. Tyrosinase is an essential enzyme for the formation of melanin by the melanocytes. The most potent tyrosinase inhibitor available is 4-n-butyl-resorcinol. This is the key ingredient in ESK’s Enlighten.
- Vitamin A: Really good evidence exists for Vitamin A for pigmentation. It tends to increase cell turnover, and indirectly inhibit tyrosinase. Our Ultimate A and Ultimate A+ is formulated with the most effective and least irritating form of Vitamin A, Retinal. ***
- Vitamin C: Ascorbic acid seems to inhibit melanin production as well as preventing inflammation in the skin which limits the inflammatory pathway in overproduction of pigment. Use ESK’s Reverse C Serum (or C Serum Lite for oily skin) to have this powerful antioxidant help with your pigmentation.
- Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol): Anti-inflammatory properties as well as indirectly inhibiting tyrosinase (also in Reverse C Serum in addition to Vitamin C). ***
- Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide): It inhibits the transfer of melanin from melanocytes to surrounding skin cells (in ESK’s Enlighten, Ultimate A and Ultimate A+). ***
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs): They are helpful in treating pigmentation by increasing cell turnover and studies show they inhibit tyrosinase. This is the key ingredient in our Smooth Serum, getting rid of pigmentation through increasing skin cell turnover. ***
- Hydroquinone: Best evidence sits around 3-4%. Downsides – tends to be slow and can cause hypersensitivity. Ochronosis (an uncommon side effect) turns skin a bluey-grey colour. Banned in many jurisdictions around the world due to safety concerns.
- Ablative therapies (e.g. chemical peels, liquid nitrogen- AKA cryotherapy, laser) Long term data is a bit thin but evidence seems to suggest pigmentation tend to come back.
If you want to get rid of your pigmentation, try ESK’s Pigmentation Kit. Pigmentation is one of the most difficult skin concerns to treat, but we have helped lots of women like Renee (check out her before/after).
Don’t forget that it is NEVER TOO LATE to start to prevent more pigmentation from happening. A day cream offering broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays should be an essential part of everyday skin care.
Hope your skin looks and feels its best very soon.
Mottled hyperpigmentation, ephelides (freckles), solar lentigines (sun spots/ age spots) and pigmented seborrheic keratoses (AKA senile warts!!) are the main pigmentation problems you get as you get older.